Pubdate: Mon, 14 Nov 2011 Source: Florida Today (Melbourne, FL) Copyright: 2011 Florida Today Contact: http://www.floridatoday.com/content/forms/services/letters.shtml Website: http://www.floridatoday.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/532 Author: Susan Zwieg Note: Susan Zwieg was a lecturer at BCC the past school year and lived in Cocoa. She is temporarily teaching at St. Petersburg College. FEW APPLICANTS TEST POSITIVE The drug testing bill for welfare recipients in Florida, specifically for those receiving cash benefits under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, should be repealed. The bill does not include drug testing for those receiving other types of subsidies, such as food stamps. (These cash benefits are $180 a month for one person and $364 for a family of four.) The state would reimburse the welfare recipients if they tested negative. The bill recently was halted because of an appeal by a single father and Navy veteran who felt the requirement was unconstitutional. Florida federal judge Mary Scriven (a George W. Bush appointee) agreed with the plaintiff. Gov. Rick Scott assumed in May, when he signed the bill, that so many families receiving assistance were under the influence of drugs that it had become a burden on our economy to continue giving them benefits. During Scott's election campaign, he said $77 million could be saved by the state after drug testing became law, although he did not explain how he arrived at this figure. However, since the law went into effect, and before it was halted, more than 7,000 people took the drug test in Florida. And only 32 of them tested positive, according to the Florida Department of Children and Families. At $30 a person for the drug test, do the math. Where's the savings? When I began the research for this debate, I decided to ask the students in my college English classes what they thought about the subject. The replies ranged from examples of welfare abuse and stereotyping to astonishing real-life stories of their own struggles to overcome poverty while raising children, working at low-paying jobs and going to college to earn a degree. Many of the students were upset that during these times of economic instability and unemployment, the state government is imposing even more hardships. They were pleased to hear about the low percentage of positive drug tests and encouraged me to use that fact as the best argument yet for repealing the law. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.